Mobile menu

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
English words which still bother me
Thread poster: Isabelle Gelle

Isabelle Gelle

Local time: 02:26
English to French
+ ...
Feb 21, 2007

Dear colleagues,

After 18 years of translation and proofreading, I notice that translators into my language (French) all seem to have a different attitude as to the translation of certain words which tend to be anglicisms widely used in spoken French or words appearing a lot in English texts or false friends. Some words are regulated by the French authorities when appearing in translation and we should use the French version of them but most of the translators still use the English ones which is understandable since everyone knows those words.

I am currently compiling a list of those words which still bother me and raise the question of whether I should use the French term or leave the English one whenever I meet them in an English version. The list is non-exhaustive but here are some of them:

- relevant
- relating
- fax
- e-mail
- applicable...

I would like to know whether the translators into other languages also have their 'bothering' words and which ones.

Isabelle


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Timothy Barton
Local time: 04:26
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Maybe I've been out of France too long... Feb 21, 2007

Isabelle Gelle wrote:

I am currently compiling a list of those words which still bother me and raise the question of whether I should use the French term or leave the English one whenever I meet them in an English version. The list is non-exhaustive but here are some of them:

- relevant
- relating
- fax
- e-mail
- applicable...

Isabelle


Maybe I've been out of France too long (it's been four and a half years), but I would always say "pertinent", and "relevant" just sounds awful to me in French.

I don't see the problem with "relatif".

I think "fax" is definitely more common than "télécopie".

I'd say more people say "mail" than "e-mail", since no-one would say "mail" rather than "courrier", so there's no need to add the "e". But courriel seems to be gaining ground.

What's wrong with "applicable"? It all depends on context, though.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jackie Bowman

Local time: 22:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Are you kidding me? Feb 21, 2007

Isabelle Gelle wrote:

Some words are regulated by the French authorities


The govermnent of France has the time and the inclination to prescribe (or proscribe) French citizens' use of words? Is this for real? In the twenty-first century? Are you kidding?

[Edited at 2007-02-21 23:17]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Stéphan Goldsmith
Local time: 22:26
English to French
+ ...
Language regulation in France Feb 22, 2007

Hi Jackie,

There is indeed a law in France (the so called "loi Toubon", named after the culture minister that promoted it) which regulates the usage of the French language.

The law states for example that user's guides, warranty information, etc. of products sold in France must be in French. If an ad as a tag line in English or any other language, a translation into French must be provided on the ad, etc.

There isn't yet a "language police" checking how the French people speak

Stéphan


Direct link Reply with quote
 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:26
English to French
+ ...
These are simply "faux amis" Feb 22, 2007

I wouldn't get worked up over it, but I WOULD raise the topic like you are doing now.

These words are being used by people who can't speak proper English/French/whatever, fill in the blank. I can't even blame them - it seems nowadays, IM vocabulary is taught in school in some countries. How can you expect those children to learn proper language when the people who teach them don'T speak those languages properly? And with each generation, it gets worse.

So, don'T get worked up, just make sure to always use the correct word, like a real language professional should. And also occasionally call to people's attention this misuse of anglicisms/francisms/whatever, fill in the blank. It is important people realize this.

By the way, I just came across the use of the words "batch" and "item" in French. It really hurts my ears, really-really! But I did tell the client about it, and although they want me to keep using their - wrong - translation, they are now aware how wrong they are. Let's hope next time around, they will avoid this kind of lamentable mistake.

All the best!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
isn't language supposed to evolve? Feb 22, 2007

Okay, here's my rant ...

Most people (but not most ProZers) would call me a purist. After all, I edit English. But two things always come to mind when I find myself in a discussion like this one:

(a) At the end of the day, there is no "right" way to say anything--that's what makes language so beautiful. (I'm too ignorant to be able to come up with good examples, esp. non-English ones, but Jack Kerouac's writing comes to mind.)

(b) Language evolves, and no one is going to stop that. Every day, here in the southwestern United States (but it would be true even if I lived in Maine or Washington), I use words that Spanish speakers borrowed from Muslims 1200 or more years ago. Would you really wish that this hadn't happened? Algebra, corral, etc.

The one thing that I wish more people would do is think about the language they speak or write, so that they would use it mindfully and not just, especially, in slavish imitation of the latest fad (which centuries from now, IT lingo will simply have been).

I think that Isabelle is right to raise her question, but I also like Timothy's response--he is mindful of what each word does and "feels like" in its context. The issue isn't "borrowing" per se, but how one deploys language as a tool ...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:26
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
E-mail Feb 22, 2007

Regarding e-mail, I think the preferred version by French government is mél as that is the one printed on most of the french documents that I have.

Personally I like courriel a lot more.

Are there any other versions?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:26
English to French
+ ...
Émel Feb 22, 2007

I still don't get how they came up with this one...

I also prefer courriel, but this term was "invented" in Quebec, and I wouldn't be surprised that the French would shun it just because of its origins. Us here in Quebec get criticized a lot by the French for the quality of our French, although I don't really see why - in many fields, I find that our French is more correct, although that is only my personal opinion. I do have a feeling that the criticism is based on popular spoken language and not written language, which is completely different from how they speak in France - but hey, it's just the way the language evolved over here over a few hundred years. There's nothing for it.

To my French colleagues out there - it's all good!

Another example I see a lot is "gérant", which is basically an anglicism derived from "manager". The correct word would be "directeur", but I guess since managers are overseen by directors, people prefer to use "gérant" to illustrate the hierarchic relation. Oh well...

There are tons more - I'll probably come back here to give you a top five...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:26
Italian to English
+ ...
(off topic to Viktoria) Feb 22, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

Us here in Quebec get criticized a lot by the French for the quality of our French, although I don't really see why


The same reason that a lot of English people deplore American English - ours has to be superior, simply because we're *English*!

Not that I'd ever think that, of course.

[Edited at 2007-02-22 09:16]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
German to English
+ ...
Insularity is supposed to be a British attribute Feb 22, 2007

Stéphan Goldsmith wrote:

Hi Jackie,

There is indeed a law in France (the so called "loi Toubon", named after the culture minister that promoted it), which regulates the usage of the French language.

The law states for example that user's guides, warranty information, etc. of products sold in France must be in French. If an ad as a tag line in English or any other language, a translation into French must be provided on the ad, etc.

There isn't yet a "language police" checking how the French people speak

Stéphan


Surely that refers to where French must be used, rather than how it should be used?

Some background from an authority unrecognised by any government: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Académie_franaise

"The Académie is France's official authority on the usages, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language, although its recommendations carry no legal power — sometimes, even governmental authorities disregard the Académie's rulings. The Académie publishes the official dictionary of the French language, known as the Dictionnaire de l'Académie française. A special Commission composed of several (but not all) of the members of the Académie undertakes the compilation of the work. The Académie has completed eight editions of the dictionary, which have been published in 1694, 1718, 1740, 1762, 1798, 1835, 1878, and 1935.
As French culture has come under increasing pressure with the widespread availability of English media, the Académie has tried to prevent the anglicisation of the French language. For example, the Académie has recommended, with mixed success, that some loanwords from English (such as walkman and software) be avoided, in favour of words derived from French (baladeur and logiciel, respectively). Moreover, the Académie has worked to modernise French orthography. The body, however, has sometimes been criticised for behaving in an excessively conservative fashion."

I remember driving through France just before Christmas some years back and being most amused to hear the radio announcers pepper their waffle with endless use of an expression which sounded like "Marie Icksmas."

Is the Académie"Jobs for the boys", or a useful guideline for the uneducated? Either way, it's nice to know that you can be an "immortal" linguist:

"Members are known as les immortels (the immortals) because of the motto, À l'immortalité ("To immortality"), that appears on the official seal of the body granted by Cardinal Richelieu. One of the immortels is chosen by his or her counterparts to be the Académie's Permanent Secretary; the Permanent Secretary serves for life, or until resignation. The Académie may, furthermore, appoint a former Permanent Secretary to the office of Honorary Permanent Secretary. The most senior member, by date of election, is the Dean of the Académie."

Patricia wrote:

Okay, here's my rant ...

Most people (but not most ProZers) would call me a purist. After all, I edit English. But two things always come to mind when I find myself in a discussion like this one:

(a) At the end of the day, there is no "right" way to say anything--that's what makes language so beautiful…

(b) Language evolves, and no one is going to stop that...


Madame, I could not agree more wholeheartedly, or rather: "you betcha!" Surely it is linguistic excellence, rather than adherence to "administrative guidelines", that keeps us going?

Best
Chris





[Edited at 2007-02-22 16:56]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
A bit off topic (?): Les visiteurs Feb 22, 2007

Textklick wrote:

Is the Académie"Jobs for the boys", or a useful guideline for the uneducated? Either way, it's nice to know that you can be an "immortal" linguist:

"Members are known as les immortels (the immortals) because of the motto, À l'immortalité ("To immortality"), that appears on the official seal of the body granted by Cardinal Richelieu.


Your above comment reminded me of that hillarious French film with Jean Reno, "Les visiteurs", both because of this idea of "immortels" and because of the rather difficult task of defense of the French language by the French Académie (which, btw, is something that also happens with the Real Academia Española).

These two characters, who come from the past (I believe from the Medieval times), are faced all of a sudden not only with modern inventions (such as toilets, he he he!), but also with having to understand the constant use (by their fellow modern French people) of certain English words such as "OK" ("oh ké").

Hillarious...

Saludos,

Ivette

P.S.: I forgot to mention that, if anyone likes Jean Reno in comedies, he's got another funny movie (that I know of) called "Tais-toi", with Gérard Depardieu.

[Edited at 2007-02-22 11:58]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jackie Bowman

Local time: 22:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Fascinating discussion … Feb 22, 2007

… and perhaps I’m missing something here. But Isabelle, at least two of the words on your list – relevant and applicable – are in the English language only because they were taken from Latin through French. Are there really no French equivalents of these words, or have I misunderstood your message?

As a translator from Spanish into English, the most ‘bothersome’ words for me are Spanish renderings of utterly wretched English neologisms. At some point, enough English speakers decided that the abomination ‘deliverables’ was acceptable as an English noun … so now I have to translate even more wretched Spanish neologisms like ‘entregables’ – a sad and somehow humiliating rendering of an invented English word.

A striking thing is that this discussion revolves around French. Is the government of Ecuador, for example, passing actual legislation about the creeping influence of English into Ecuadorian Spanish? Or Bolivia? Or Honduras? What makes French so special that it needs to be protected and coddled and government-regulated like a newborn kitten?

I’m British. I speak English, Spanish and Portuguese. I speak no German. My favourite word in the entire world is the German noun Schadenfreude. I can’t express how excellent I think this word is. To say the same thing in English, you have to say an entire sentence. This is a word of beauty, and English speakers would be poorer if they hadn’t incorporated it into their arsenal of available words.

In the information age, in a virtual world that is borderless, it is simply laughable for any government to try to regulate any words that are not intended to inspire hatred, discrimination or violence.




[Edited at 2007-02-22 18:13]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jackie Bowman

Local time: 22:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thank you, Stéphan Feb 22, 2007

Stéphan Goldsmith wrote:

Hi Jackie,

There is indeed a law in France (the so called "loi Toubon", named after the culture minister that promoted it) which regulates the usage of the French language.

The law states for example that user's guides, warranty information, etc. of products sold in France must be in French. If an ad as a tag line in English or any other language, a translation into French must be provided on the ad, etc.

There isn't yet a "language police" checking how the French people speak

Stéphan


Excellent information. I learned something today from you. And in all sincerity I thank you for it.

But if what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt it), it is so terribly, terribly sad.

All best,
JB


Direct link Reply with quote
 

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:26
English to French
+ ...
Why French needs to be protected Feb 23, 2007

In reply to Jackie's post, I will attempt to explain why French needs to be regulated or at least preserved. I could see you coming to this thread from the few thousand kilometres separating us

The situation in France - and it has been like that to a certain extent in the past - is that they share a border with Great Britain and therefore get a lot of English influence mixed into their own language (this has been even more so since the Union started taking off). In Quebec, it is even worse - many Americans think that Canada is just one of the United States. Quebec being a province of Canada - well, you get the picture. I like to call it an oasis of francophony in an ocean of anglophony. French is a language that has been enduring lots of agression over time. This is not the case in South America, where all countries have Spanish as their official language, so there are almost no influences coming from other languages, at least not to the same extent.

In Quebec, we have had to elaborate laws to protect the language, and I bet that if this hadn't been done, the state of French in Quebec would be about the same as it is right now in Louisiana. The same aggressive lawmaking has not taken place in France yet, and I think it is simply because France doesn't have two official languages like Canada does.

Also, about the question of the immortals and the Académie - we have something similar in Quebec called the Office de la langue française. They are very similar to the Académie, except that they never compiled any dictionaries and haven't been around for as long. These people actually aren't as conservative as they seem at first. Both the Office and the Académie add words to their lists of words after careful consideration, but neither tried to delete any words from the collective conscious. They eventually adopt new words as times change, because they are people who realize that language does change and sometimes it is for the better. That is how the word "courriel" came to be accepted "officially" - and that is how it has later spread. That is not at all a bad thing...

In an age where people use such terms in written language as IMHO, AFAIK, LOL and many other juicy "expressions", there actually is a need to keep these things in check. It is not a question of regulating how language is used, but rather a question of referencing the commonly accepted words so that people remember them over time and can speak a decent language. It would be a pity to find out nobody knows anymore how to express a specific concept correctly...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jackie Bowman

Local time: 22:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Protecting French like a newborn kitten Feb 23, 2007

To Viktoria: we haven’t yet heard from Isabelle and her problems with the English-French translation of the word ‘relevant’. Frankly, I’m astounded that no native French speaker has jumped in with an opinion on this.

Pending an intervention from a French-speaker with an opinion about how you say ‘relevant’ or ‘applicable’ in French, this message might be drifting a bit off-topic. But it is at least a direct response to your own post, so I hope the moderators will grant us a little latitude.

You said:


The situation in France - and it has been like that to a certain extent in the past - is that they share a border with Great Britain and therefore get a lot of English influence mixed into their own language (this has been even more so since the Union started taking off).


First, Britain doesn’t share a border with France. Indeed, many of the (wholly justified) complaints I’ve read about British monolingualism take pains to mention the irrefutable geographic fact that Britain doesn’t share a border with any other country. It’s an island. And there’s a mountain of good literature about the development (social, economic, political, linguistic, whatever) of islands.

What’s happened, of course, is that people in the British Isles speak English. This is probably the single most important historical/linguistic circumstance of the past three centuries.

People from the Faroe Isles, a little to the north of Great Britain, speak Faroese. I know nothing about Faroese, and therefore I have no reason to doubt that it is an excellent and honourable language, or that its native speakers are a great and honourable people.

But it’s Faroese. And with all due respect to my Faroese siblings, why should anyone learn it? I mean the question literally: if you don’t speak Faroese, and you have the time and the inclination to learn another language (I do, which is why I am very, very slowly learning Arabic), why learn Faroese? With all due respect, why?

People in France have not had ‘a lot of English influence mixed into their own language (this has been even more so since the Union started taking off).’ Philologically, of course, the truth has been the exact opposite. If you took all the French out of English, you wouldn’t have a language.

Not true, that. Of course you’d have a language. But it wouldn’t be English, perhaps the richest language known to linguistics. The greatest thing that the Norman invaders did for English in the late eleventh century was to decree that Norman French was for the elite, and that the bastard middle-English Anglo-Saxon, and its successors, could still be spoken by the Briton peasants, the little people, the poorest of the poor.

This is not the case in South America, where all countries have Spanish as their official language, so there are almost no influences coming from other languages, at least not to the same extent.


Not true. And I imagine that the many millions of people in the tenth biggest economy on the planet would be disheartened to hear that their language is Spanish. Not to mention the Dutch speakers in Suriname or the bit of France that happens to be in South America.

You think Mexican Spanish doesn’t have English influences? (Mexico, by the way, really does share an actual border with an English-speaking country.) But the government of Mexico isn’t passing legislation to regulate its citizens’ use of words. Neither is the tenth biggest economy on the plant, nor the Peruvians, nor even the government that oversees the welfare of this planet’s five million Danes and their honourable tongue.

Whence, therefore, this obsession with French? Could it be that it has less to do with language than with politics? Surely not.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Pages in topic:   [1 2] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Maria Castro[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

English words which still bother me

Advanced search


Translation news





Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs